UNDER THE SKIN (2013)

What We Talk About When We Talk about Film

under-the-skin5

Ah, Christ.

Two films released in 2013 focus almost entirely on Scarlett Johansson. Spike Jonze’s Her was all about her bodiless presence, the gorgeousness of her voice, and the abstract idea of her as a purely sensual being, even embodied in the sexless guise of a machine. We never see Johansson’s face, not once, in Her. 

Under The Skin is similar, except that in Jonathan Glazer’s remarkable and deeply horrendous film, her face is all that we see. The film pivots on the black alien glare of her eyes, shadowed in neon, endlessly reflected , mirrored, echoed. But, again, this is an abstraction. Try to imagine a colour that does not exist, or the vastness of space, perhaps. These things are inexplicable. This is a cold, cold film. Infinitely colder than Her. It is the coldness of trying to imagine something at the peripheries of human understanding. Glazer has created a…

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